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Gurgling Sounds When a Washing Machine Drains

Christie Gross

Gurgling sounds when a washing machine drains is a telltale sign that the drain is clogged. Open the washing machine's lid if you hear the washer start to gurgle to see whether or not the washtub is draining properly. If the washer is slow to drain or water won't drain at all, search the washing machine manual for clog removal instructions.

Clog Basics

Cut power to the washing machine before troubleshooting a clog.

Debris or clothing can cause the washer's drain to clog. Although a washing machine's dual tub construction is designed to prevent lost items from entering the drain and stopping it up, sometimes a clog occurs. Generally, a smaller item, such as a handkerchief, sock or washcloth, gets lodged between the inner and outer tubs. The outer tub provides direct access to the drain, so once an object enters the outer tub, it inevitably gets stuck in the drain and causes the drain to make a gurgling or slurping noise.

Clog Removal Preparation

To remove a clog, empty the washing machine. Place wet laundry in a water-proof container, such as a sink or plastic laundry basket. Refer to the washing machine's manual for instructions to pump out water from the washtub. Most washers have a small hose or pipe in the back that you can use to drain the tub. You'll need a 5-gallon container or something equivalent to hold water as it drains.

Basic Clog Removal

Once the washing machine is empty, remove the washer's main access panel to view the washtub. Usually to the right of the washtub is a long, black hose. Detach the hose and remove it from the washer. After the hose is out, you can see the entrance to the drain. If the clog is visible, use a pair of needle nose pliers or your fingers, if small enough, to reach down into the drain's entrance and remove the clog.

More Complicated Clog Removal

If you can view the drain entrance, but don't see the clog, the blockage may have gone further down the drain line. Contact a washer repair specialist to locate the clog and remove it for you. He'll have the tools to reach deep into the drain line to clear the clog. In addition, the technician will be able to inspect the washer and its drain to make sure the clog didn't cause permanent damage to these items.